Communion on tongue gesture?


I have a dumb question but I cannot seem to find the answer here. I would like to recieve communion this way but I wondered something about the procedure. I have done so before but at an altar rail where everyone else was as well. in a regular line up to the front when about half of the people are recieving in the hand is there some way I am supposed to make it clear that I would like to recieve on the tongue? What should I be doing with my hands? I only ask because even though I am busy with other thoughts obviously in the communion line and try to mind my own business I thought I saw someone making a kind of hand gesture before the priest administered communion. I just don’t want to be standing there with my hands folded and the priest confused as to what I am expecting.


Just kneel, put your hands in the prayer position. Pop open your mouth and stick yer tongue.


There is no hand gesture.

Keep your hands clasped and lower them to your waist or below so that it is clear that you are not receiving in the hand. Your hands should be out of the priests line of sight - get them out of the way.

Lift your head and project your chin out as you approach the priest - this will be a clear sign that you wish to receive on the tongue. Say Amen, stick out your tongue and wait for it.



Hi rasbat,

In all of the times that I have received on my tongue, there has never been any confusion when receiving that way.

I have done as fellow poster Timothy has described, and have kept my hands by my waist in a praying position and when it is my turn to receive, I am ready to receive on my tongue after saying “Amen.”


I do it this way and have never had any problems.


Although allowed, In the United States, please be careful when you kneel in a communion line - in most parishes, kneeling in the communion line is the exception.

We have one young lady that kneels to receive communion in our church and people do not expect this and almost stumble on top of her when she is starting to kneel or get up. When I usher, if I notice she’s there, I’ll hold the line up by an extra couple of seconds as will most of the ushers… but often we don’t see her or she’s in the middle of the pew :shrug:

I’m also an EMHC: if you keep your hands together in prayer, bow, amen, and stick your tongue out at me, I get the hint as will most Ordinaries and EMHC - in my parish, we’re actually trained to expect people to receive on the tongue (I do!). :smiley:


Good for her! I went to a Mass in Polish once and the practice there was to kneel and stand back up again before it was your turn to receive, which seemed like a nice way to do it without holding anyone up (not that I think anyone should mind waiting when you consider what they’re waiting for).
On another note, you have ushers in your church? Where I am, we all just stampede (in an orderly fashion) for Communion :stuck_out_tongue:


Pew-by-pew Communion lines are a novelty of the American Church and an abomination that causes great pressure to receive unworthily. The first prong of the attack on sacreligious reception, for example those who have divorced and attempted remarriage, should eliminate pew-by-pew lineups, and why not install and use an altar rail while we’re at it?


Yes, good for her - which is why we try to give her the time :slight_smile:

:tsktsk: Excuse me… that is a very opinionated and uncharitable post. :tsktsk:
To call anyone an abomination is a horrible thing and I take that as a personal insult!
IMHO, you should apologize to every usher around the world that donates their time to greet people at the door (evangelization starts at the door!), helps the elderly and those with physical and medical needs to their seats, handles the collection, and keeps order during the communion (often the older folks or those with injuries just don’t want to sit up front where Fr. could administer communion, I’ve even helped a few people actually stand up from the pew and/or held the line long enough for them to get up and moving).

Ushers do not pressure anyone in our church to receive one way or another. With 300 to 500 people at each Mass, having everyone rush the center aisle (very old, church, two sides, two middle, pillars running between the sides and middle, total of three aisle and the pews are very close together (if you’re a lady at 9mo you need to sit in the first three rows, they’re a little wider - I think by accident) ). It would be a night mare without the ushers, children would get crushed… I’ve seen this happen when the ushers do not show up as scheduled… mob rush… everyone trying to force their way past the people sitting in the pews to get to the center aisle because they don’t want to walk up and then back down the length of the church. This isn’t Rome where we have 50 Priests and a 100 Deacons to go row by row… and, really, how is that any different when it comes to forcing people to receive unworthily… the host is right there in front of you, with everyone close to you watching…

Certainly when I usher, as many remain in the pew as get up to receive; thus, your opinion that it forces people to receive unworthily holds no weight.

As for alter rail… wish we did have it… we used to have the rail and the high-alter until the idoits in the 70’s pulled out the high-alter, the rail, and tore out the stairs and floor in the choir-loft. I personally refer to that time as “The second Iconoclastic movement.”


Where did the poster call ushers an abomination? The reference was to the “pew by pew Communion lines”. Don’t put words into the poster’s mouth that were not said.


To call the act an abomination is to call the people that perform the act an abomination because they commit the act.
This is no different than calling the act of murder, abortion, or any such act an abomination and by that appellation, the person that commits the act is called a murderer, an abortionist, etc… is also an abomination. At least, with murder, abortion, and other such acts there is a good reason to make that assessment.


I wouldn’t call an abortionist an abomination, I’d call him a sinner.
If ushering did in fact cause people to receive the Eucharist when in a state of mortal sin then there would certainly be something wrong with it, in that respect, but that would hardly extend to the people who give up their time to make sure anyone who wants to receive can; I truly doubt any insult was meant to ushers. In any event, you say it doesn’t pressure people to receive unworthily, so that’s fine. :thumbsup:


Abomination, perhaps a strong word, taking of an innocent life, equally a strong action. Do the two equate? I’ll let history decide, and I don’t want to hijack the thread with such a debate :o

It certainly is not the intent to pressure anyone to receive in an unworthy state - at least in my church, as I said, from my experience, as many stay seated as go to receive.
As for pew by pew being an American novelty, that I really don’t know; however, sadly, many of the churches lost their high alters, communion rails, statuary, and even their stained glass windows back in the 70’s - very sad. Some of the Churches in the rural areas around where I live have been able to restore some of these “lost” items because parishioners took these items and hid them from the radicals of the time. Anyway, the pew by pew simply is the most orderly way to handle a huge crowd. I’ll have to see if there’s a youtube showing pew by pew in churches in England, France, Germany… should be an interesting search.

You should see the chaos at our all school mass, without the ushers, … 300 elementary students from K thru 6 and then another 300 from 7 to 12th grades. Wow, the energy and excitement (I’m not talking about noise either, these kids are serious, and they want to be first in line!). Good for the soul to see that desire, and bad on the feet and toes without the order from the teachers and the ushers to keep the kids under control.

Perhaps in my parish there’s a difference, We teach right in the beginning with the Kindergarteners on up that not everyone should get up to receive. Some because they haven’t been properly taught about the Eucharist, others because they need to go to confession first and that it’s alright to stay in the pew and pray. In fact, we teach our kids that they need to say a little prayer asking for God’s mercy for those that do stay in the pews.

To tie this back into OP’s question…
This person’s experience with receiving on the tongue:
Why I’m Giving Up Communion On the Tongue |Blogs |
Makes a point; however, I think it shows that some EMHC are very poorly trained whereas others, especially old school Catholics, know how to handle communion on the tongue.


Watch others and you may see. The hand gesture you mention may NOT have anything to do with reception of the Eucharist. Reception on the tongue is a different act of humility.
Are you a new Catholic? Pray the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me” as you make a profound bow before reception. We are people who need to worship with our body. Position changes the experience.


Nonsense! Calling pew by pew Communion lines might be an over the top expression but it does not mean the ushers. Wake up!


There probably is some truth to that. In the Spanish Masses I have attended, they do have a pew-by-pew communion lines until they hit about half-way up the pews. Then the ushers disappear when they see larger and larger blocks not preceding to receive. The non-communicants tend to sit in the rear pews. This isn’t the case at English Masses where almost everyone receives.


Please stick to the OP’s topic, everyone. Thank you.


There’s a man who attends Mass almost daily at our downtown St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco – he dresses in athletic clothes – gets in the line to the priest giving Holy Communion (he refuses to get in the line for the deacon) – and when he gets up to the priest he kneels down and receives on the tongue.


I switched over from receiving in the hand to receiving on the tongue several years ago. I recall having the same thoughts as you at first (and had not yet stumbled upon this forum) and didn’t have the benefit of observation as very few of the parishioners receive on the tongue.

What I started off doing was placing my hands flat against my belly, one on top of the other (think holding your tie back while drinking from a water fountain). I open my mouth and extend my tongue slightly, not moving my head forward so as to not create a moving target for the priest or EMHC. Basically “the gesture” is a non-gesture. Don’t put your hands out to receive.

I have made some observations over the years of doing this. For the most part, it doesn’t seem to matter what you do with your hands so long as you don’t hold them out to receive. The priest/deacon/EMHC will generally get the idea. Sometimes they look down, see your hands, and immediately look up - it seems natural for them. At some parishes, especially ones with a generally older congregation and/or priest, it actually seems that receiving on the tongue is the norm.


And please…OPEN your mouth!

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